A poem from Obediah Michael Smith

January 1, 2019

A

Sum

of Women

 

am I going

to have to

live divided

 

I dread it

I am dreading it

 

dreading

this division

of my heart  

 

all four chambers used to

fill with blood for her  

used to beat for her

used to be for her

 

now, what is like a river,

branching, splitting in two

 

what am I to do, confess

or live duplicitous,

double-minded

 

don’t like it one bit

though this new affair,

commencing,

is legitimate

 

just flipped like a pancake

in a pan in fat on the fire

 

needing to be brown,

to be done on both sides

 

am I supposed to  resist,

be blunt, not bunt

what is pitched to me

 

to right or left or

somewhere or somehow

 

make no effort

to play the ball, to hit it

 

is it justification sufficient

to say that she is divided too

married already, in love with me

 

I did not-

still do not want

to learn to live like this

 

in pieces - in parts

or even divided

 

wanted to be living

just for her, not for two

 

is the heart

an orange or tangerine

with so many plugs,

as easy to divide

 

wanted to give it

to my wife whole

 

to hold out until

 

she was able,

was available,

to give herself

to me wholly also

 

but could she ever

be that committed,

that devoted

 

in bed with two men

or with how many at present

 

are they- are we

as close at times

as she and this other woman

in my life were this morning

 

only able, with great effort,

with delicate precision,

to keep them apart

 

 

Obediah Michael Smith was born on New Providence, in the Bahamas, in 1954. He has so far published 20 books of poetry. At University of Miami and University of the West Indies, Cavehill, Barbados, he participated in writers workshops facilitated by Lorna Goodison, Earl Lovelace, Grace Nichols, Merle Collins, and Mervyn Morris. He attended Memphis State University, 1973 to 1976 and majored in Speech & Drama and Biology. He has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dramatics and Speech, from Fisk University. He has lived and has studied French, in Paris, France. At Universidad de Costa Rica, in 2011, he studied Spanish. Smith was the Poetry Workshop facilitator for the Bahamas Writers Summers Institute, in 2009 and again in 2011. His poems in English are included in literary journals and anthologies throughout the Caribbean, in the USA, in England and in Kenya, and his poems, translated into Spanish, are included in anthologies in Colombia, in Mexico, in Peru, in Venezuela and in Spain. In 2011 and 2012, for five months, he lived in Mexico City. He attended Kistrech Poetry Festival in Kisii, Kenya, in 2014 and in 2015. He spent from 2014 to 2018 in 11 countries in Africa.  July 11 – 17 2018, he attended Romanian international poetry festival, Curtea de Argeş Poetry Nights. His poems are now included in that festival’s anthology translated into Romanian.

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